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HER Number:MDV114496
Name:Dartmoor Prison: Former Infirmary

Summary

The infirmary was constructed as part of the first phase of building work of 1806-9, and was set within its own compound in the north-western part of the site, with a separate gateway and porter’s lodge to the south-east (now demolished). The building is a rare surviving example of an early-19th century prison infirmary. Was used briefly for naphtha production in the late 1840s, before becoming a gasworks in 1850 and later workshops.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 585 741
Map Sheet:SX57SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • INFIRMARY (XIX - 1806 AD to 1809 AD (Between))
  • RETORT HOUSE (XIX - 1846 AD to 1848 AD (Between))
  • GAS WORKS (XIX - 1850 AD to 1875 AD (Between))
  • WORKSHOP (XIX - 1875 AD to 1875 AD (Between))

Full description

Joy, R., 2002, Dartmoor Prison A Complete Illustrated History Volume 2 The Convict Prison 1850-Present Day At Her Majesty's Pleasure, 137 (Monograph). SDV359843.

The workshops were originally the infirmary of the war prisons built 1806-1809. Nearly 1500 Frenchmen and 271 Americans died at the Dartmoor Depot, the majority in this building. After the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812 had ended, the infirmary was let to a private firm, the British Naphtha Company. This did not go well and in 1850 when the convict prison opened it became the prison gasworks to supply gas to the prison and barracks.
As soon as the gasworks outside the prison walls opened in 1875, the old infirmary became the convict workshops and has remained so until the present day.


Brodie, A., 2015, Devon, Lydford, Princetown, HMP Dartmoor, 14-15 (Report - Assessment). SDV359840.

In 1846 the British Patent Naphtha Co. took a lease of land near Holming Beam and converted the infirmary of the prison into a retort house. The company converted peat into Naphtha and other derivative products including candles and gas for lighting the premises. Although the works cost £19,000 it closed within two years as the naphtha produced was smoky and difficult to sell. The 1847 survey plans show a number of small structures flanking a house of the early prison immediately to the west of the former infirmary building. These may have been erected as part of this short-lived process.


Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2016, Case Name: H M Prison Dartmoor: The former Infirmary (Report - Assessment). SDV359429.


Historic England, 2016, H M Prison Dartmoor: Former Infirmary (Cartographic). SDV359428.


Historic England, 2016, H M Prison Dartmoor: Former Infirmary, HM Dartmoor Prison (Correspondence). SDV359427.

Amendment to listing confirmed.


Ordnance Survey, 2016, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV359352.

Map object based on this source.


Historic England, 2016, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV359353.

The infirmary was constructed as part of the first phase of building work of 1806-9, and was set within its own compound in the north-western part of the site, with a separate gateway and porter’s lodge to the south-east (now demolished). The 1847 plan shows that the infirmary had a large open ward in the main central block, with two more wards and the surgery in the north wing. The south wing contained wards, kitchens, the seamstress’s apartment, and an interpreter’s cabin. In the late 1840s, the infirmary was briefly let to the British Patent Naphtha Company for use as a peat processing factory. Thereafter it was used for gas production for lighting the prison, until the gas works to the north of the prison were built in 1875, after which it became workshops. The former infirmary building is now in use as workshops and for training, and some reconfiguration of the internal spaces reflects its changing use. The building is a rare surviving example of an early-C19 prison infirmary.
An additional range standing immediately to the south of the infirmary block was also constructed during the first building phase, illustrated by the print of 1810. This consisted of a central house containing separate accommodation for the assistant surgeon and matron, with a wing to the north containing the wash house and laundry; to the south was the dispensary. Attached at the south end was the gatehouse and porter’s lodge. Later in the C19 a blacksmith’s shop occupied the site of the former laundry (a lean-to farriers shop and wood store was added in 1900), with the house becoming the Works office. A fire in 1958 damaged the former house; it is thought that little of this now remains, apart from its footprint. The range has undergone much additional change in the C20.
Details
Former prison infirmary building, circa 1806-9, with later alteration and additions, and former annexe.
MATERIALS: granite rubble, incorporating some massive pieces, with granite cills and lintels to the windows. The window openings contain multi-pane windows with moveable hopper sections; there are later outer bars. The roof has been replaced with metal sheeting.
PLAN: the original infirmary building is an H-plan, with the longest central range on a north/south axis. An additional range stands immediately to the west of the infirmary block, also on a north/south axis. There are numerous later additions to both parts. The two small additions to the south-west of the main building, and the larger addition to the south-east of the northern wing, are not of special interest; nor is the addition to the north of the western range.*
DESCRIPTION: the main building is two storeys high; the west-facing elevation of the main range is of eleven bays, the original entrances having been to north and south; these are now obscured by later additions. There has been some alteration to the window openings on this side, including the blocking of some first-floor windows, whilst the ground-floor openings appear to have been lengthened. The south range of the main building remains largely intact internally, and is also of eleven bays, with fenestration as on the main range, and a low central door opening. The upper part of the central bay has been altered, and a modern fire escape added, which is not of special interest.* The western end of the north elevation of the north wing is largely obscured by a later addition – possibly the former farrier’s shop marked on a plan of 1927 – though the original privy block at the centre of the elevation can still be identified. The eastern side of the former infirmary could not be inspected.

The single-storey range, to the west of the main block, on the site of the former annexe to the infirmary, and thought to incorporate some of its fabric, has been much altered and added to. There is a long lean-to section against the west wall, essentially dating from 1900 but with later rebuilding. There is a low C20 addition against the north end, which is not of special interest.*
INTERIORS: not inspected (2015).

Sources / Further Reading

  • Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2016. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital.
  • National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2016. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital.
  • Correspondence: Historic England. 2016. H M Prison Dartmoor: Former Infirmary, HM Dartmoor Prison. Letter. Digital.
  • Cartographic: Historic England. 2016. H M Prison Dartmoor: Former Infirmary. Listing Amendment Map. Digital.
  • Report - Assessment: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2016. Case Name: H M Prison Dartmoor: The former Infirmary. Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Digital.
  • Report - Assessment: Brodie, A.. 2015. Devon, Lydford, Princetown, HMP Dartmoor. Historic England. A4 Comb Bound. 14-15.
  • Monograph: Joy, R.. 2002. Dartmoor Prison A Complete Illustrated History Volume 2 The Convict Prison 1850-Present Day At Her Majesty's Pleasure. Dartmoor Prison A Complete Illustrated History. 2. Hardback Volume. 137.

Associated Monuments

MDV15309Part of: Dartmoor Prison, Princetown (Building)
MDV114498Related to: Dartmoor Prison: Polygonal buildings, former officers' mess and former steward's house (Building)
MDV51413Related to: Site of gas works, Princetown (Monument)
MDV5548Related to: Tramway 250 metres east of Rendlestone Cross (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7115 - Assessment of the buildings at Princetown Prison, Dartmoor

Date Last Edited:Dec 19 2016 4:04PM